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DEATH AT THE SEASIDE
by Frances Brody
Minotaur, September 2017
389 pages
ISBN: 1250098858


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In Frances Brody's eighth book in the Kate Shackleton Mystery series, it's August in England, and Kate, Jim Sykes, and Mrs. Sugden decide to take separate, well-deserved vacations along Yorkshire's coast. However, Kate has barely had time to get settled into her Whitby hotel before she discovers a body, and before long, the three friends and colleagues have gathered to solve a mystery where Kate and her friend Alma are the main suspects.

DEATH AT THE SEASIDE features the smart, spunky Kate Shackleton as the main character, but unlike its predecessors, it has Kate working much more on the fringes of the police investigation. In fact, Kate, under suspicion for both murder and colluding with smugglers, spends a night in jail. Even when Scotland Yard inspector Marcus Charles arrives on the scene, complicating Kate's emotional life but giving her credit for her investigative skills, she's relegated to looking for a missing cat. But with herself and her friend under suspicion and her goddaughter missing, Kate is determined to get answers. Delving into the area's smuggling history, her friend's fortune-telling (and fortune-hunting) pursuits, and the complicated lives of those living in Whitby, Kate unravels multiple mysteries, ably helped by Jim Sykes and Mrs. Sugden.

As in previous books in the series, Brody captures the atmosphere of 1920s England nicely, as well as presenting the reader with well-developed characters and a satisfyingly complicated plot. Alternating among several viewpoints (and, somewhat disconcertingly, among times), Brody provides multiple perspectives for deeper insights and twists, and she juggles two distinct plot lines well, also adding to the intrigue, before bringing them all together at the end without any convenient coincidences or unmerited stretches of the reader's beliefs.

Those familiar with the earlier books in the series will appreciate the ever-deepening characterization of Kate, but DEATH AT THE SEASIDE works well as a stand-alone, too—a sometimes tricky situation that Brody pulls off successfully. She also, of course, leaves the door open for more Kate Shackleton mysteries to come.

§ Meredith Frazier, a writer with a background in English literature, lives in Dallas, Texas

Reviewed by Meredith Frazier, November 2017

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